So my bank holiday Sunday recently departed was spent picking my little heart out at Secretts Garden Centre in Milford, Surrey. Granted it was battery-farmed foraging and the first locally based pick your own I stumbled upon but boy did it deliver. And as a result of the bumper harvest, I now have arguably the most unique collection of receptacles dedicated to housing the spoils of my visit.
This is by no means a macho brag list but here are the fruits and vegetables of my (and the bewer’s) labour:
1kg Courgettes (plus flowers)
1 handful Puffball Mushrooms
I will talk about the courgettes with their alien like qualities and the mushrooms later, but for now I’ll suffice in talking about the jam.
I tracked down, both on and offline recipes, as per usual however, my mum came through with the goods, reiterating the fundamentals of many of the methods sourced. The bewer and I tested various combos (minus the inclusion of courgettes and mushrooms) and quantities but the method and recipe outlined below seemed to be the most consistent and requires no elaborate equipment.
It literally works with all the fruit we gathered. Being a non-puritan preserver, personally I think the combined fruits work best.
So here it is …
2 very large heavy based pots
3 – 4 saucers (left to chill in the freezer)
As many jars with lids as you can lay your jammy mitts on, steeped in boiling water for 20 minutes (don’t touch the inners of the jars and lids to avoid contamination)
Ingredients (this recipe makes enough for about 2kg of jam or approximately 4 regular sized jars):
1kg of washed ripe mixed berries (I’d personally recommend combining strawberries and raspberries in equal quantities. Chop the strawberries if large and always ensure the fruit is devoid of insects, rot etc)
100g caster sugar
30g jam sugar (sugar with pectin)
Juice of 1 lemon
Place the pan over a medium heat and pour in the 100g of caster sugar. Heat until the sugar begins to dissolve on the base of the pan. Stir frequently to avoid the sugar burning on the base.
After about 5 minutes add the mixed berries to the pan and stir quickly to ensure all are evenly coated with the granulated syrup that’s formed in the pan. Turn the heat up and stir for a few times until the berries begin to release their juice.
Once the berries begin swimming in their own juice, give it one last stir and add a lid to the pan. The berries should now begin to boil rapidly.
After approximately 5-10 minutes, remove the lid and add the lemon juice and jam sugar. Boil for another 5-10 minutes until the berries are almost completely broken down (Don’t bother skimming the surface to remove the foam … it’s way too laborious and for me, achieves nothing).
Now remove one of the saucers from the freezer and using a teaspoon, carefully place a small dollop on the centre of the saucer. Return the saucer to the freezer.
After 2 minutes check the “jam” on the saucer to see if it is at all set (the surface of the jam should wrinkle slightly when pushed with your finger). If so remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. If not repeat the last step every 5 minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
Once you have your jam, begin filling every last receptacle with your spoils CAREFULLY!
Seal the jars with the lids and add to another large pan filled with cold water. For additional sterilisation, place the pan on a high heat and boil rapidly for about 20 minute.
Leave to cool completely, adorn the jars with any Lakeland Plastics labels and lumberjack shirt material you wish, store in a cool dark place and mention your homemade jam in polite company at every given opportunity.